Editor’s Note: Safety Group Program Monthly Newsletter Article – May 2014
Contact: Mindy Carrothers (303.361.4790, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Protecting Employees from Summer Workplace Hazards
Summer in Colorado presents its own distinct workplace safety challenges. Since the sun is almost a mile close to us than it is in many other states, it can be especially hazardous to your health. Many workers, especially those who work outside, are at risk for injuries ranging from severe sunburn to heat exhaustion. It’s important for you and your employees to understand and protect yourselves from summer hazards. By learning the basics and taking a few simple precautions, you can work to stay safe from heat-related injuries and illnesses this summer.
Hazard #1: Sunburn
Sunburns are a significant, and the most preventable risk factor for the development of skin cancer.
Encourage employees to protect their skin by applying sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 on all exposed body parts. Reapply every two hours for maximum effectiveness.
Employees can also minimize exposure from the sun by wearing proper clothing including a brimmed hat and sunglasses. Make sure hats or sunglasses meet your worksite’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements.
Hazard #2: Heat stress
Heat stress includes heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.
Make sure that you and your employees are familiar with the symptoms. Symptoms range from confusion and heavy sweating to nausea, irritability, muscle cramps and spasms.
Remind employees to drink plenty of clear liquids including water, or beverages with electrolytes such as sports drinks. Steer clear of sodas because they can prevent hydration and may contribute to a heat-related illness.
If your employees feed dizzy or nauseous, take a break. They should find a cool, shady place and rest until they feel better. Keep in mind, heat stroke can impair a person’s ability to make sound judgments and may cause accidents.
Hazard #3: Severe Weather
Colorado summers also bring a chance of severe weather. Remember:
Thunderstorms can bring hail, heavy wind and lightning. Remind your employees to take cover during extreme weather and thunderstorms, but not under trees, where lightning risk increases.
If you or your employees are working off the ground and see lightning, get down immediately. Lightning kills more workers each year than tornadoes.
If it begins to hail, find a covered shelter, such as your car. Hail in Colorado ranges from pea size to golf ball size, both of which can cause injuries.
Pinnacol policyholders have access to a wide variety of free materials, including our "Sun Safety" poster that is available in English and Spanish. You can order these materials online through the Resources page of Pinnacol.com. For more information on how to avoid summer workplace hazards, contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call Hotline at 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752.